Health & Science

Houston’s oldest hospital for Black patients to be renovated, re-opened as county health facility

Services that will be offered at the site are dental care, childhood vaccinations, flu shots, obesity reduction, asthma management, diabetes prevention, women’s infants and children, WIC program services, maternal and infant health, and more.

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media
Harris County and city of Houston officials announced plans to renovate the facility for Harris County services.

The first non-profit healthcare facility in Houston for African Americans is getting renovated after it closed in 2015.

The Houston Negro Hospital opened in 1926, which allowed trained physicians to work and provide care to African Americans and their families. In 1961, the name was changed to what is now Riverside General Hospital in Third Ward.

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Qatar Harvey Fund Officials and health experts unveiled the construction sign as Phase 1 of the renovations will begin next year. Renovations include the hospital building, the nursing school building which opened in 1931, and the laundry building. A new adjacent building will be added later.

Four years ago, Harris County commissioners agreed to invest in reopening the facility that will now house Harris County Public Health, other vital services and the headquarters for Accessing Coordinated Care and Empowering Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) Harris County – an integrated care-coordination model that works to improve outcomes for vulnerable individuals.

"I’m grateful to know that soon that legacy of care will live on now and continue into the future," said Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who was born at Riverside General Hospital. "Because of the efforts of our city and our county to successfully purchase and invest in revitalization efforts."

Ellis said the collaboration with the county and city will help move forward with ensuring equality of healthcare for all.

"Working with the city, we’re going to try and do as much as humanly possible to end those disparities," he said. "It will all happen to a great extent, right here, where many of the county’s public health and safety net programs will come under one roof at this site."

Services that will be offered at the site are dental care, childhood vaccinations, flu shots, obesity reduction, asthma management, diabetes prevention, women’s infants and children, WIC program services, maternal and infant health, and more.

Mayor Turner said when the hospital was in operation, it provided healthcare for those in need.

"I will tell you that when this hospital was up and running, it provided incredible services to people who needed it most, those most vulnerable," he said. "When the doors closed, the city of Houston, not just Third Ward, felt its impact."

Turner said the reopening of Riverside Hospital will bring much needed services to the Third Ward community.

"I am grateful for the vision and partnership with Commissioner Ellis and Harris County Commissioners Court and the generosity of Houston endowment and the Qatar fund," he said. "The commissioners court decision four years ago to invest in reopening historic Riverside General Hospital was a life saving move for this community."

To help with the cost of the project, Houston Endowment donated $5.3 million to purchase the property and the Qatar Harvey Fund (QHF) donated $2.5 million. Following Hurricane Harvey, the State of Qatar created the QHF to administer $30 million to support long-term recovery of Southeast Texas.

The Honorable Rashid bin Abdulla Al Dehaimi is the Consul General of the State of Qatar in Houston. He said the State of Qatar and Texas have worked together for many years and he wants to continue to find ways to work with Texas.

"Qatar supports this community project, because our partnership and friendship in Texas go back many years in business, education and culture exchange," he said. "[The] Qatar Harvey fund is a symbol of the close tie between Texas and the State of Qatar and to bridge our continued friendship now or for many years to come."

In 2019, the Qatar Harvey Fund donated over $4 million to renovate the historic Blue Triangle Center in Third Ward after damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Although construction costs are already funded, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis says money for the actual operation still relies on the county’s budget.

“Down the road when the next budget cycle comes up, and this building is completed, we’re going to have to have funding in place to hire people to provide these services.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

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